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Live Oak

Live Oak

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

Live Oak
Quercus virginiana  
(KWER-kus vir-jin-ee-AN-uh)

Texas Live Oak
Quercus fusiformis
  
(KWER-kus fus-EE-for-miss)

Coast Live Oak, Southern Live Oak Escarpment Live Oak, West Texas Live Oak

Family
Fagaceae (white oak group)

Description
An impressive oak tree with a large, sprawling canopy once mature

Plant habit
Large shade tree, with a spreading, downward growth habit

Landscape use
Given proper growing conditions, oaks can grow to a massive size over a long period of time, producing generous shade. Provides food and shelter to a variety of beneficial insects and wildlife.  Locate carefully; provide ample space away from structures and utilities

Average mature size
60’ tall x 70’ wide (can exceed both)

Growth rate
Slow to moderate, long lived

Sun exposure
Sun

Soil requirements
Adaptable

Water requirements
Low

Heat tolerance
High

Foliage
Evergreen except during short period of leaf change (spring)

Flowers
Green catkins

Blooming period
Spring

Fruit characteristics
Acorns

Pests and disease
Susceptible to oak wilt

Other
Consider provenance (origin) of the tree; purchase a tree grown from a regional seed source to ensure adaptability, as nursery stock of unknown origin may not survive (ask your nursery professional).  Maintenance may be an issue, as oaks seasonally drop flowers, acorns and leaves.  Produces high-quality hardwood.

 “Botanists see no difference between the coast live oak and the escarpment live oak of the Hill Country, and in terms of how they look, they’re right. They’re both big, powerful looking live oaks. But there’s all the difference in the world in how they grow. The coastal live oak isn’t nearly as drought tolerant; around Houston, it lives in heavy clay, often in seasonally-standing water, and is usually draped with Spanish moss.  One other difference; the coastal oaks aren’t as cold tolerant as its escarpment relative.  All the live oaks growing between the Hill Country and the Gulf are hybrids of these two.” – Sally Waskowski, Native Texas Plants.

“Scarcely any other tree develops the distinctive, spreading habit of the live oaks…” – Scott Ogden, Successful Gardening with Difficult Soils.